Three of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ face stern away day examinations this Saturday as we kick off the full-on festive programme in style.
And our football odds expert Adrian Clarke is across those contests, previewing and predicting the outcomes…
Everton v Chelsea | 23 December 12:30
Everton’s recent Premier League record at home to Chelsea reads, Lost-Won-Lost-Won-Lost-Won, so on the basis of this very simple pattern, it appears the smart money is on a home win at Goodison Park.
It tends to be feast or famine for both clubs in this clash of the Blues, and according to the formula, it’s the Toffees’ turn to prevail at 23/5.
Big Sam has certainly brought about an instant improvement on Merseyside, with Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson looking far happier under their new gaffer. The pair of them are scoring and creating goals for fun and will be major threats on Saturday.
— Everton (@Everton) December 19, 2017
Icelandic star Sigurdsson, who curled in a beauty on Monday night, looks especially attractive at 22/5 to hit the net anytime.
That said if we’re being honest, Everton have also been pretty lucky under their new boss too.
A couple of soft penalties got them out of jail against Swansea City, they rode their luck to steal a win at St James’ Park, and in the Merseyside derby, it’s fair to say they scored from their only genuine foray forward.
For me, results have outshone performances, so I would still fancy the away side Chelsea here, who are as short as 3/5 with good reason.
While Antonio Conte’s men are not playing with any real swagger (and were poor in their early kick-off defeat to West Ham) the likes of Willian, Pedro, Hazard and the returning Morata are capable of destroying a Blues back four that’s still far from convincing.
We may see a return to 3-5-1-1 at Goodison – a show of respect to Everton – and I do feel the slippery and skilful Hazard/Morata axis has the potential to tie Ashley Williams and co in knots.
You won’t get rich backing it, but my selection is Morata (who has been rested ahead of the Christmas period) to score in a Chelsea victory. That’s a 17/10 chance which I can see landing.
Six of the Spaniard’s 10 goals have come away from Stamford Bridge. He loves a road trip.
Everton v Chelsea Price Boosts
Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score first vs Chelsea, 19/2 to 11/1 (12:30pm)
Burnley v Spurs | 23 December 17:30
I don’t think I’m exaggerating to suggest that James Tarkowski has been the rock, the mainstay, the indomitable lion of Burnley’s defence all season – so on the face of it, his three-match ban for whacking Glenn Murray off the ball last weekend is borderline disastrous news.
Yet I doubt the ever impressive ever-gravelly Sean Dyche is too worried.
He’s created a culture where every member of his squad knows their teammates’ job inside out, so when fellow central defender Ben Mee was ruled out of two matches earlier on this month, Irishman Kevin Long stepped in and nobody noticed the difference.
That’s how it works at Burnley so Tarkowski’s absence might not be the leg-up it looks for Spurs.
Don’t expect a thriller.
Goal bonanzas are few and far between at Turf Moor. In fact, during the last 12 months, the Clarets fans have only witnessed more than three goals in a game there twice, and not since May.
So with a total of just 10 goals scored there in nine Premier League contests this season (seven from the hosts) it’s well worth looking towards the Under 2.5 goals market (10/13) or even the Under 1.5 goals bet, which comes in at an attractive 49/20.
Burnley always keep things tight, and on the back of their 4-1 bullwhipping at Manchester City, we may see more caution from Mauricio Pochettino’s men too.
The first goal – if there is one – will be critical. It always is, but with these two sides, it’s practically a must.
Burnley have won five from five at home when scoring the opener, and Tottenham have a 100% record from the four times they’ve netted first on their travels.
First goal usually wins.
They’ve not become a poor side overnight.
Burnley v Spurs Price Boosts
Son Heung-Min to score first vs Burnley, 9/2 to 13/2 (5:30pm)
Leicester City v Manchester United | 23 December 19:45
Which Leicester City will turn up in this pre-Christmas cracker?
If it’s the ravenous Foxes who snapped away at Spurs, Everton, Southampton and Newcastle I’d give them a great chance of landing three points (19/5) but with Claude Puel’s men nothing is guaranteed.
Last time out at the King Power they were embarrassed 3-0 by Crystal Palace, and up against the other big guns this term the 2015-16 champions have lost the lot.
It’s all about tempo from Vardy, Mahrez, Gray, Okazaki and co.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) December 19, 2017
We’ve seen United struggle away to Huddersfield Town and Stoke City when the minnows got in their faces, and that is the key to success here. If Jose Mourinho’s side don’t fancy a right royal battle they could come a cropper.
They are the classier team though, and while they maintain the pretence they’re in the title race, I do expect a professional performance. If that’s what they deliver, they are good value to claim the win.
The non-celebrating Romelu Lukaku is a streaky goal-muncher, so he looks a decent bet to score anytime at 5/4, but my principle pick would be United to win with both teams to score. That’s priced up at 11/4 with the good people of Grosvenor Sport.
If you’re not out doing a spot of desperate late night Christmas shopping, make sure you tune in for this one. It has the potential to light up the whole sporting weekend.
Leicester v Man Utd Price Boost
Riyad Mahrez to score first vs Man Utd, 19/2 to 12/1 (7:45pm)